FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Developers are now looking to The Landing for the latest project to create a more vibrant atmosphere downtown.
Earlier this week the Downtown Development Trust signed an agreement to add another building to its four other purchases along Columbia Street. The non-profit trust already owns 110, 114, 122, and 131 W. Columbia St. Leaders with the Trust said specific plans for the buildings haven’t been made. However, they are hoping to put shops, restaurants, and clubs on the first floors of the buildings and possibly develop the upper floors into loft apartments with exposed brick and wood accents.
“This really was one of the first commercial districts in Fort Wayne, and we think there’s an opportunity to bring additional living and activity back to this street,” John Urbahns, the Executive Vice President of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. said.
Most of the buildings are vacant, but for the ones with tenants, the Trust will work with them to come to an agreement. The Red Rok BBQ & Bourbon Saloon occupies one of the buildings that is part of the most recent agreement. The owner, Chris Wilson, said he doesn’t plan on moving his establishment and is working on a long-term leasing option with the Trust. He is also welcoming the possibility of more retail, restaurant, and living options. Wilson said he grew up in Fort Wayne and can remember when Columbia Street would be the site of city festivals, and the street would be packed with people going to the various bars and restaurants along the corridor.
“We just want to see it thriving and booming,” Wilson said. “The more business that’s down here will attract more people and be beneficial for all of us who are here now.”
The Trust will use money from the Fort Wayne Community Foundation and Legacy Fund as well as federal funding for the project. Trust leaders believe it will tie in nicely with all of the other development downtown.
“The Ash Brokerage project is just a few blocks away as well as the activity going on down on Wayne Street, and the rivers are just a block and a half north of here with riverfront development,” Urbahns said.
The Downtown Development Trust doesn’t have a time frame for the project, but they are looking for developers and are having a local architecture firm create a short video highlighting some of the options for the area within the year.